Former CIA engineer sentenced to 40 years for leaking classified documents

Classified Documents

A former software engineer at the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been sentenced to 40 years in prison by the Southern District of New York (SDNY) for sending classified documents to WikiLeaks and possessing child pornography.

Joshua Adam Schulte, 35, was originally charged in June 2018. He was found guilty in July 2022. On September 13, 2023, he was convicted on charges of receiving, possessing and transporting child pornography. In addition to the prison term, Schulte was sentenced to life on supervised release.

“Schulte’s theft is the largest data breach in CIA history, and his transfer of that stolen information to WikiLeaks is one of the largest unauthorized disclosures of classified information in U.S. history,” the U.S. Department of Justice said ( DoJ). said.

The sensitive information Schulte shared included a range of hacking tools and exploits referred to as Vault 7 And Vault 8. It was published by WikiLeaks from March 7, 2017, for a period of eight months.

Schulte served as a software developer at the Center for Cyber ​​Intelligence (CCI) from 2012 to 2016, where he worked on tools related to offensive cyber operations conducted by the CIA, then abused his administrator privileges to “copy copies of the entire CCI tool to plunder’. development archives” in 2016.

This information included methods to “gather foreign intelligence against America’s adversaries,” including an arsenal of cyber weapons and zero-day exploits that made it possible to compromise cars, smart TVs, web browsers, and commonly used desktop and mobile operating systems.

The leak, described as a “digital Pearl Harbor,” cost the agency “hundreds of millions of dollars” and “caused serious harm to U.S. national security and directly risked the lives of CIA personnel,” prosecutors said.

Schulte was also accused of repeatedly lying to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about his involvement and of “spreading fake stories” about how the information could have been obtained from CIA computers in an attempt to deflect suspicion to turn.

A subsequent search of his New York apartment in March 2017 uncovered a cache of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) consisting of approximately 3,400 images and videos, some of which had been collected from the dark web during his employment with the CIA and Russian websites.

During detention awaiting trial, he was found to have used cellphones smuggled into prison to create anonymous, encrypted email and social media accounts, and to have attempted to send protected discovery materials to WikiLeaks and classified information to publish on CIA cyber techniques and tools.

Schulte’s goal, the DoJ said, citing a diary he kept, was to “sever diplomatic relations, close embassies, [and] end the American occupation around the world.”

“Joshua Schulte was rightly punished not only for his betrayal of our country, but also for his substantial possession of heinous child pornography,” said FBI Assistant Director James Smith. “The seriousness of his actions is clear and the sentence imposed reflects the extent of the disturbing and harmful threat posed by his criminal conduct.”

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